Sunday, October 27, 2013

"Isn't worth the effort."

As a former president of D C Road Runners Club, I will speak to the hurtful and arrogant comments made by the club's current president in a Washington Post article published Friday, which article extolled runners in DC. Current DCRRC president Brian Danza explained that his club "firmly promote[s] the sport of running in a competitive manner."  

The article cited Mr. Danza as saying, "Running a marathon just for the sake of completing one isn't worth the effort."  Recreational runners, such as presumably the vast majority of participants in today's People's Marathon, "do it to check a box," according to Mr. Danza.

The club under the care of the president one before me and then myself believed in inclusion and participation, not elitism and disdain for the common runner.  We provided training programs for persons wishing to engage in or initiate a more fit lifestyle, for people who aspired to run a 5K or a 10K or a marathon, and actively encouraged achieving such a lofty goal.  

The club president mid-last decade and myself did not denigrate the efforts expended by such ordinary athletes for the uncommon accomplishment of running a marathon, even in perhaps 4 or 5 hours or more, rather, we tried to encourage and facilitate such activities by creating and running training programs tailored to certain races such as the Capital Hill Classic 10K, the ATM, and the National Marathon and HM.  (Recognition goes to Kristin Blanchet for being the genesis of such programs becoming a regular part of the club.)  

I consider it asinine that "competitive" runners such as Mr. Danza might say "recreational" runners are merely wasting their time by their participation.  (Mr. Danza related to the reporter that anything less than "competitive" running is merely "the way to one-up each other-I'm thinner than you, I'm better than you, I checked this box.")

I hail all those runners who did their best this morning at the MCM, all 30,000 athletes, and whatever time they achieved, I urge them all to exult in having accomplished a hard feat that 99% of all people have never performed.   I salute them all for undertaking the task and sticking with it and finishing it, competitive and recreational runners alike!

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I have been using throwaway cameras for my snapshots for years now.  They are little boxy things with film inside.

I'm quite shameless in asking passerbys to snap a picture of me in front of a marvel, usually during a running outing but often while on vacation too (see my recent posts).  I always say, as the person starts out by holding the camera away from himself or herself as though the cardboard box would magically sprout a window display,  "You're too young to know how this artifact works but... ."

At which point they focus on a point in their recent or dim past and say, "Oh, I know how these work."  And they look through the viewfinder and snap the picture.

Only once I had a person that truly didn't have a clue.  She kept trying to take the picture backwards, with the lens pressed up against her face as she squinted through the viewpoint the wrong way.

And once a little boy,once his father had obligingly snapped my photo at Camden Yards, snatched the camera away and tried to "see" the image on the back of the disposable camera.  He went into a snit when I wouldn't "show" him the picture by bringing it up on the cardboard backside.

And two weeks later, I get to relive the moment when I get the developed pictures back from the photo lab.  Often, I have no idea what the picture shows, or where it was shot from or why.

LOL.  Lately it's been an instigator of comments that border on the incredible as in, Where do you go to develop this thing?

A few years back, when I was president of the local DC running club, my picture taking with a film camera truly was a object of hatred by the club's twenty-something IT department members, because it showed how backwards and stupid I was.  Those three young turks, all board members, coupled with a sad sack VP they co-opted through temporary friendship, forced me to resign by disrupting all of my board meetings with their disrespectful and confrontational antics.

The chief instigator of the coup is now the president, although the club at least waited until he turned thirty before voting him the post (the winning slates are pre-selected by a committee).  As president I had tried to look into irregularities in the way he was handling the club's money flow (he controlled the PayPal account), but I had no support for such a potentially explosive inquiry on the existing board.

A concern I had with going digital is that whenever I carry a camera on a run, I'd rather carry a $7 piece of equipment instead of a $200 one.  Plus, whenever I would line up a running shot and click the shutter, it would take the picture about half a second later, not instantly as with film (I actually had a digital camera but disliked it).

Anyway, yesterday I went out and dropped $200 on a Pentax WG-10 Adventure Proof dust-proof, water-proof, shockproof digital camera with anti-movement software, 5X optical zoom and 14 Megapixels.  The purchase price included a photo card and a thumb-drive thingy which allows me to move the snapshot from the card to my Mac.

I spent an hour last night formatting my photo (storage?) card and setting the location and the time on the thing.  It's the same size as my dumb phone although its 2 or 3 times thicker and heavier.

This morning I ran 5 miles on the Mall with a running buddy and she showed me how to actually snap pictures with it and delete the undesirable images.  She also welcomed me to...well, not to the future but rather to catching up with the present.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Welcome Back

The government shutdown ended after 16 days of pointless inactivity and I was summoned back to work yesterday.  I cannot imagine a more pointless exercise than closing the government because one tiny segment of one political party is apoplectic that the uninsured in this country are finally going to have access to affordable health insurance.

This band of Visigoths camped outside the gates of Rome also came within a hairsbreadth of possibly causing world financial ruination.  Thank heavens there are actual adults in charge in the Senate, in contrast to the House.

At work yesterday, after comparing beard lengths with the boys and hearing about housecleaning projects in various stages of completion from the girls, at noon I went out and ran 3 miles on the Mall with a running buddy from work.  It was a humid day and as I drank from my bottle of water I bemusedly watched my running buddy finally elbow aside an unyielding homeless man at a drinking fountain who was meticulously rinsing out his drinking container over and over, in order to get a much-needed drink.

"It was so mild outside that I didn't think I'd need water today," she said as we ran away, which is a line I often hear at noontime from less-experienced running co-workers.  We ran past the Joseph Henry statue, by the Carousel, through the Mary Ripley Garden, across the front of the Capitol and returned to work after 35 minutes of finally being "back at it" after a wasted fortnight.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Bedford Boys

(The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia.  The archway is the symbol of Project Overlord, codename for the Allied landings in Normandy during World War II.  For the 70th anniversary of D-Day next year the memorial administrators will erect on the pathway leading into the memorial a statue of a grieving G.I., in full combat gear, helmet less, one of a mere eight Bedford Boys out of thirty who went ashore who survived the invasion.)

Bedford, Virginia is where the National D-Day Memorial is.  It's out of the way in south-central Virginia but it is worth the trip to visit this beautiful tribute to all the Allies who successfully assaulted Fortress Europa on June 6, 1944, the longest day, and struck the death-knell of Nazi Germany thereby.
(At the Bedford Courthouse downtown, next to the Confederate Memorial and across from the Revolutionary War Memorial is this tribute to the Bedford Boys in World War II.)

The memorial is in Bedford because so many Bedford lads were slaughtered on Omaha Beach in so short a time.  This tiny town of 3,200 lost 22 of its sons during the Normandy invasion, 19 in the first hour or so of combat on the beach when the landing forces were raked with murderous fire by the Germans commanding the heights behind the beach.
(The assault.)

We know how that came out ultimately, the day was won by the courage of the individual American soldiers (and the Canadians and the British on other Normandy assault sites) and the Germans were ultimately defeated.  If you want to know how hard a slog it was for the nineteen and twenty-year old boys who carried the brunt of the fighting for the next ten months, you would do well to start with Stephen Ambrose's book Citizen Soldiers.
(The triumph.)

After I left my rafting and minor league baseball games behind during my driving vacation in West Virginia in August I visited Bedford, to honor the sacrifice of The Greatest Generation.  The memorial is a poignant reminder of the ultimate price of freedom.
(The price.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Amy

(My noontime running buddy, H, on the left with her friend, A.)

Last month a running buddy of mine at work asked if I would conduct an evening historical run on the Mall with her and a friend of hers who was leaving her job in DC to attend graduate school at the University of Chicago, as a sort of going away present from one Chicago native to another.  Because I was a history major and I like pointing out historical tidbits during runs, I readily agreed.
(The view of the Mall from the Lincoln.)

My plan was to run from our work area near Union Station to the Capitol then down the Mall to Lincoln and back, pointing out references along the way, but due to time constraints that was a monument too far so we doubled back at World War I.  A run on the Mall has innumerable things to see and infinite things to ruminate on.
(The view of Capital Hill from Labor Hill (the top of the steps at the Department of Labor),)

We ran to the Japanese American Memorial on Louisiana Avenue first and contemplated the great injustice done during World War II to the Japanese-Americans in the country, who were relocated from the west coast to bleak barbed-wire enclosed internment camps in the interior due to war hysteria.  Many of these loyal Americans lost everything as a result yet this terribly maligned ethnic group unfailingly remained true to the country, even furnishing a much-decorated combat brigade that was famous for its bloody, heroic service in our Italian campaign slugging match against the Germans.
(The Imprisoned Cranes statue,)

Next we stopped in the little park at the bottom of Capital Hill to view the towering statue of Robert A. Taft, the powerful Republican senator from Ohio from mid-last century, respected, if grudgingly, by all as an outstanding legislator although not admired by all for his isolationist policies.  The statue of Freedom atop the Capitol deserved a point-out from this location as well.
(General Winfield Scott Hancock, hero of Gettysburg.)

Along First Street NW we ran by the Peace Statue, the Civil War statue diorama dedicated to General Grant and the statue of our "martyred president" James Garfield, who was shot nearby by a disappointed office seeker before Garfield had even served a half year as president.
(Looking down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol grounds at dusk.)

I showed my co-worker and the departing student A my favorite pocket park on the Mall with its quietly burbling (in season) fountain and its ever-changing array of flowers and plants inside its elevated curvy brick walls.  Then we ran by the working National Carousel, a fine example of a 1940's era Merry-Go-Round, the Smithsonian Castle with its statue of Joseph Henry out front, past the Holocaust Museum  on the left and the Washington Monument on the right and straight through the National Tulip Library, a year-round working flower-bed garden on the Jeffersonian Tidal Basin, to the Martin Luther King Memorial right next to the FDR Memorial.
(At the entrance to the Pocket Park.)

We started back by running past World War I to World War II.  At this memorial I showed them the battle names etched in stone of the two battles my father fought in (a First Marine Division veteran), the several Pacific sea battles my uncle fought in (a shipboard gunnery-officer Marine), the campaign another uncle participated in as a rear-echelon support officer hunting down fugitive Japanese troops in the Philippines, the campaigns another uncle participated in while piloting a B-26 Marauder in the Mediterranean and the battles fought in by a Third Army (Patton's army) veteran I had the pleasure of meeting in recent years, the father of a close friend of mine.  All of these heroes are departed now.
(The Washington Monument, with its steel-beam exoskeleton complete, is undergoing repair to fix damage it incurred during the 2011 earthquake.)

The visit to World War II produced the hit of the running tour because I told H and A about the hidden memorials dedicated to Kilroy, as in "Kilroy was here", and showed them to them (there are two identical semi-concealed monuments to the ubiquitous Kilroy).  H and A both found the story fascinating and were delighted to see the long-nosed caricatures.
(The National Carousel.)

We had to hasten our pace as time grew pressing but we ran by the great petrified wood block outside the National History museum, telling its tale about the work of president Teddy Roosevelt preserving our national heritage, the Archives building containing its monumental documents dedicated to individual freedom, the Federal Trade Commission building with its fine statues depicting a man reigning in the powerful horses of commerce and trade, past the statues dedicated to the heroic general Winfield Scott Hancock and the triumphant general George Gordon Meade, both of Gettysburg fame, and over the small Labor hill affording a good view of the Capitol.  A few-block run down New Jersey Avenue back to the Georgetown Law School ("I'm not a potted plant!") completed our historical fun run.
(The National Tulip Library in springtime.)

There were lots more historical places we could have run past within 5 or 10 minutes of where we actually were, such as the John Paul Jones statue, the Jefferson, the George Mason seat, Korea, Iwo Jima, the Dutch Bell Tower, the Pentagon, the Air Force Missing Man statue, Arlington National Cemetery, Vietnam, Einstein, the White House, the First Division statue, the Boy Scout statue . . .shall I go on?  Any 60 minute run on the Mall can only partially expose all the places to visit in the City of Monuments, each site with a story or stories to tell.
(Good luck in Chicago!)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Columbus Day

Yesterday at noon, on the Columbus day holiday, I had lunch at the Lost Dog Cafe in Westover in Arlington, as I usually do when I am in town on any holiday or special day like the birthday of one of my children.  I had Dog Collars (onion rings) and a Rin Tin Tin pizza pie, a vegetarian's dream of spinach, eggplant, red onions, mushrooms and more in a marinara sauce covered with mozzarella cheese.

I have dined alone at these meals for the past decade, as my three then-minor sons were alienated from me years ago by the actions of their Mother when she unconscionably made them participants in our nuclear divorce.  No Lamberton has heard a single word from these boys (now men) since then.

I'm sad that I was unable to stop the specious forces that used these children to further my ex-wife's selfish, shortsighted goals in toxic divorce litigation from destroying my children's normal childhoods and skewing their future adult associations, perhaps permanently.  For years I have publicly invited these three young men through unanswered letters, unreturned phone calls and unresponded-to Internet invites to join me at one of these lunches so that we can start rebuilding our father-son lives one day at a time, but no one has ever showed.

I am sad that time is running short now (I'm the same age my father was when he died) and they still eschew normal adult and familial relationships.  I regret that their childhoods were destroyed by adults aligned with my ex-wife's shortsighted divorce goals and I was helpless to prevent the terrible damage these "professionals" did to my minor children such that as adults now they seemingly disdain the immutable reality that when the sands of time run out, there's no flipping over the hourglass even one more time.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Falls Church Homeless Shelter Run

Yesterday I participated in the 2d annual Falls Church Homeless Shelter Bike Ride, a charity bikeathon that kicked off on the W&OD Bike Trail not even 500 feet from my house.  Perhaps you're supposed to bring a bicycle to a bike ride but I don't have one and the charity event supported a good cause, the local homeless shelter.

I tried to borrow a bike from a running buddy who was going to participate with me but he got sick at the last minute so I showed up to register a half hour before the participants were scheduled to take off down the trail, paid my $10 entry donation and mingled with the crowd.  I chatted furlough stuff with a neighbor who edits the local Internet paper and talked running with a runner who asked me about my fancy running jacket, high-end swag from the most notorious race in the area, the Annapolis 10-Miler, which is run every August.

That race is known for its 4 Hs (it's hot, hilly, humid & hellacious) but is equally renowned for its presenting to every finisher each year a distinctive and useful item of running such as a fleece jacket in 2006, the year I finished in 1:19:05, or the fancy waterproof windbreaker with hood I was wearing from 2008, which I purchased in a thrift store for $6.95, representing probably a $50 value in a running store.  The woman I was speaking with had participated a couple of years ago and said she barely finished; the thought of missing out on the cool race giveaway if she DNFed was the only thing that kept her going on her second trip over the high bridge in the last mile, she said.

Shortly after the bicyclists took off on the charity event I took off running down the trail a ways and back again, a 5K run in about a half an hour during which most returning bicyclists called out politely as they passed me except for one woman who silently overtook me at speed and barely missed clipping me.  Returning to the post-ride festivities, I partook in the festivities for awhile, which included violin-playing by school girls and some sort of a raffle, and then returned home highly satisfied with my lengthy engagement with such a worthy local activity.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Furlough Run on the National Mall

I went on a very slow 5-mile  "furlough run" yesterday on the Mall to see all the things that are closed. Nobody bothers you as you run on the pathways, although signs do announce the area is closed and direct you to not enter. 

There are barriers in front of Lincoln so you can't go inside that, the same with Korea, and Washington is closed anyway due to the 2011 earthquake. Nobody prevents you from filing by Vietnam or seeing its statue, or entering WW2 by its side entryway. 

None of the Museums are open, of course, and the Carousel is silent but I think it would be closed for the season anyway.  The water fountains that aren't broken still work.   My favorite pocket park is passable and apparently still maintained.  

(Running through the Pocket Park last spring with friends from work.)

After drinking my morning coffee and a full bottle of water I felt the urge so I entered the Capitol's Visitor Center (the Main Hall is closed), saying I was going to the House Gallery, and used its restroom. In answer to my expressed hope that two Capitol Police officers I passed were getting paid one said, "No sir" and her companion added, "We will though, eventually." (I translated this to, "We're working for free for now going on half a month.")

In the Capitol, I got on an elevator with two young women who pushed the button and we started ascending.  I said, "We found something in Washington that works!" which they thought was so funny that they said they were going to tweet it. 

A section of Capital Hill was closed as they fixed the raising street barrier which got destroyed in last week's tragic car chase.  I told the standing-by Capitol Policeman that I thought the force did a great job in that incident from what I have seen in various accounts (and from what I know and feel as being a former police officer) and he seemed to appreciate that, or at least he acknowledged my statement.

Everyone was unfailingly polite and the tourists I talked with were cheerful enough, and I also ran into some running friends of mine from my old running club who I hadn't seen in a long time (one looked at me wonderingly when I hailed her until I called out my name at which point she said, "Peter!  The beard, I didn't recognize you.") .  That would be my furlough beard, starting to come in thickly now in the 13th day of being out of work with no paycheck coming in to enable me to pay my bills.

It was a lazy, stop-filled fun run and I didn't even notice that it was lightly raining much of the time.  There are worse places to be than dysfunctional Washington D.C.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Minor League Baseball in West Virginia

After my second day of rafting on the New River last summer, I drove to Princeton in West Virginia to catch a doubleheader where the Princeton Rays were hosting the Bluefield Bluejays in the Rookie Short Season league, an entry-level class of minor league baseball that is one step below Class A.  The stadium, as it were, was hard to find as there were no signs anywhere indicating where it was.

The ballpark was hard to see until you were right on it because it was basically a chain link fence enclosing a field with a few bench seats in the traditional horseshoe pattern enclosing the backstop from third base to first base with a low concrete causeway behind that. The two teams split the games, I don't remember much of the game beyond that, although I recall that sundown as seen from the stadium was nice.

I did have my picture taken with Roscoe the Rays' Rooster and that was fun.  The only other thing I remember is a motorcycle endlessly and noisily circled the stadium on the street outside all game long during the second game and that grew to be annoying.

After the games I drove down to Wytheville, Virginia to spend the night in a motel there.  The next day I arose to a misty mountain viewing splendor right outside my front door.

Friday, October 11, 2013


I watched a news report extolling the school teachers who were heroes in the Newtown massacre, who shielded their children as the insane killer stalked the halls of the school.  Some died, with living children under their bodies.

Heroes.  I know they're in heaven with the children taken from us that day, along with the brave principal and school administrator who tried to take out the armed crazed killer at the onset.

These women gave their last full measure for their youthful charges.  I weep for them, and the children killed.

My ex-wife is an elementary school teacher in my home town and I hope she would be so selfless and unselfish as befits her profession.  But having witnessed her actions in our nuclear divorce litigation, wherein she brought our three minor children into the front lines of the proceedings which so radicalized them that they haven't communicated with a single Lamberton in years, where she used these children in an unconscionable manner to merely advance her selfish and shortsighted purposes and ruined what should have been their happy childhoods and warped perhaps forever their adult associations, somehow I doubt it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

West Virginia State Capitol

(Abe Lincoln in front of the West Virginia State Capitol, depicted in his night gown during nocturnal wanderings while pondering how to save the country which had torn into two irreconcilable halves upon his election.  Sound familiar?)  

After seeing the minor league baseball game in Charleston on the first day of my summer vacation in August, I went over to the State Capitol to wander around some before I retired to a motel for the night in preparation for rafting the next two days in the New River National Gorge.  The capital grounds had lots of memorial statues which I always enjoy, in addition to having the Governor's Mansion right next door overlooking the river which flows by just across the local highway.

(West Virginia pays homage to the working men and women who made the state great.)

A long time ago I was a Colorado State Trooper assigned to the Governor's Executive Security Detail in Denver for a couple of years, stationed at the Governor's Mansion there, which was about five blocks from the State Capitol which we also patrolled.  One of my most notable moments on that detail was when then-Vice President George H. W. Bush (Bush the First, father to the Decider) came to speak at the Capitol and he went right by me on his way to the assembly chamber.

(West Virginia honoring the modern American soldier.)

(Abe overlooking the river as seen from the Capitol steps.)

(The instrument of the country's salvation: A Union soldier.)

(A harbinger of greatness to come: A Revolutionary War volunteer.)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I started my driving vacation (in August) by taking the scenic route to the West Virginia capital through the Shenandoah Valley and then through hilly terrain in the Mountain State.  The final stretch to Charleston is along a river so it is naturally beautiful.

I was going to attend a minor league game in Charleston but I got a late start and despaired of making the game in time.  However when I got within 15 miles of the state capital I found the game on a local radio channel and it was in the fifth inning.  I hoped there were plenty of hits and pitching changes as I drove closer.

I drove by the Capitol eventually and took the next exit for the ballpark.  With about half a mile to go to the stadium, according to my GPS device, I parked for free and walked the rest of the way.

As I walked up to the park, I saw that all the ticket booths were closed.  A cop and a stadium attendant were lounging by the wide-open gate and I walked in, for free, while they gave me nary a glance.  (I would have gladly purchased a ticket if I had been able to.)

It was the seventh inning but that still gave me ample time to roam around the stadium of the West Virginia Power, a class A minor league team.  The vantage points were interesting, you could see the gold-domed State Capitol from the third base side seats and up the nearby steep hillside, above the noisy traffic going by on the Interstate halfway up, was a cleared patch of hilltop with a cemetery up there with several large monuments.

I had a hot dog and a beer, and the home team won in the bottom of the ninth when the opposing shortstop fielded an ordinary grounder near the second base bag with the bases loaded and two outs and as he went to toss the ball to the second baseman for an easy force-out to end the inning of the tie game, he just dropped the ball.  He stood there thunderstruck as the winning run scored.

The losing visitors trudged off the field glumly while the home teamers all gladhanded and high-rived.  Apparently it was the fourth straight loss for the visitors because a stadium attendant got atop the visiting team dugout with a broom and slowly swept off the dirt up there (a sweep, get it?).

Minor league baseball, it's fabulous.  The stadiums are so homey and hospitable too, with some hokum mixed in.  In this stadium they had the visitor's bullpen lined up on folding chairs set out in the blazing summer sun in the dirt along the stadium wall down the third base line while the home bullpen was in a shaded spacious area under the stands on the first base side.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Running while Rome burns.

Government shutdown, week two.  I go out for a run every morning, usually running the hills in my town up around the school, stopping at the 7-11 on the way back to buy coffee and a Washington Post.

I did my LSD run with John out in Fairfax on Saturday on a hot, humid summer-like day.  There was a 5K race occurring at the same time along the route we were running so we ran on the sidewalk and watched the race leaders go by.

We diverted from our planned route near the finish line and ran into the shopping mall to mingle with the runners in the finish line area there.  It wasn't really stolen glory, I used to run 50 races a year before my chronic injury and I enjoy chatting up runners.
(I'm on the left, John is on the right.)

After a short while we finished our run, grateful for the brief respite in the stifling heat.  I'm keeping active during my forced inactivity but I can't wait for the politicians to resolve the situation.

Monday, October 7, 2013

My new car

I went car shopping on July 4th.  I walked over to a nearby used car lot where I'd spotted a car that attracted my attention, a convertible in my price range with only 10,000 miles on it.

As I walked up, the car was being driven off the lot by four people.  I was disappointed but when I inquired about it, the used car salesman said those folks were just out for a test drive.

After they brought it back and departed, I took the car out.  I was waiting for the dealer to get into the passenger side to go on my test drive but he said, "I thought you said you were local.  You don't need me to come along if you know the area."

I'd never test-driven a car alone before.  It was fun; I went through the parking lot near my house to see how maneuverable it was and how it handled potholes, I went over the steepest hill in town to see what kind of power it had, and I drove it one exchange on the Interstate to get a feel for its top end.  It was nimble, powerful and zippy.

Then the dealer put the top down for me and I was hooked.  I wrote a check for it, including a service plan, on my house equity line-of-credit and drove it home.  I just love it.
(Enjoying a morning run at Bluemont with my running buddy John by having the top down.)